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Young voices for a healthy future

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Young consumer health leaders have outlined their concerns and prescribed solutions in the latest edition of the Consumer Health Forum’s electronic journal, Health Voices.

Anxiety about the climate, mental health services for young people and how young Australians can better control their future are among the themes covered in the new edition.

It follows the call to action resulting from the recent National Youth Forum on Health Summit. Health Voices includes articles written by top presenters.

Luke Catania, national coordinator of the Youth Health Forum, writes that the Summit produced three broad program themes: What issues young people are currently facing, Building the skills and capacities of young people and Defining future directions in youth health. youth.

“We have made a point of ensuring that young people are at the heart of any discussion or event of the day. There was a clear theme of empowering young consumers and letting them take control, ”said Mr. Catania.

Milly Burgess of the Climate and Health Alliance writes that eco-anxiety is increasingly common among children and young people around the world. She cites a recent survey of 10,000 young people aged 16 to 25 around the world, nearly half of whom said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily lives. It is not surprising then that the same survey showed that three quarters of young people think “the future is frightening” and more than half think “humanity is doomed”.

While some politicians have recently suggested that climate activism is “alarmist” and may “cause mental health problems among young people, feelings of anxiety or distress over the climate crisis are very valid and reasonable in view. given the trajectory we’re heading towards catastrophic global warming, says Burgess.

We know that taking action on climate change, no matter how small, can help us deal with our own plight. Acting personally and collectively can contribute to climate solutions and can be the best antidote to despair and helplessness.

David Titeu, Youth Health Ambassador and member of the Youth Health Forum and the CHF Consumer Mental Health Special Interest Group, says that in the field of youth mental health, 15 years of investment seem to have done little. “Mental health inquiries are more frequent than iPhone updates, but on many indicators we seem to be going backwards. “

What is needed is a holistic, community-based approach to mental health and wellness that supports families, jobs, education that goes beyond just consulting a healthcare professional. health, said Mr Titeu.

Recent data from UNICEF Australia has shown that young people are concerned about their lack of voice in decision-making and in

being stereotyped negatively. Giving children and youth a voice in their experiences has never been more important. These people need to work hand in hand with policy makers to ensure that services are personalized and interconnected.

Neil Pharaoh, an experienced consultant in community campaigns, says young people need to realize that they can wield power. It is a question of organization. Less than two percent of young Australians, joining the Liberal / National Party or the Labor Party, would be able to jointly control almost all elected positions in Australia. It could change the dial for the two big parties for decades to come – around healthcare, the environment, education and all the other causes that young Australians feel they miss, says Neil. .

Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells said given the issues facing young people, the Youth Health Forum Summit provided a remarkable opportunity for young leaders to discuss their issues and solutions. .

“In the context of the pandemic, life is not easy for many young people, whether it is employment, housing and / or mental health. And to eclipse these issues, it is the apprehension of their future on an Earth transformed by climate change.

“These gloomy considerations, however, failed to dampen the enthusiasm and creativity shown at the Summit. The Summit justified the aspirations that motivated the founding of the Youth Health Forum with the support of CHF three years ago. These goals included giving a voice to the ‘missing link’ in healthcare and harnessing the energy and ideas of young Australians for better healthcare, ”Ms. Wells said.

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